Williams College Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?


Unless you are taking a large lecture class, the classes at Williams are generally not larger than 30 students (this would be too large for a class in my major's department of English). We are very fortunate in this respect. It is difficult for a student to be "invisible" in a class, and professors also expect a lot of participation in and preparation for seminars. Students are generally not outwardly competitive with one another.


The academics at Williams are very challenging, but even more rewarding. The professors here are truly extraordinary. Before I even walked into my first class, my professor knew the names of everyone in the class (30 people).


All of my professors know my name. And I am not unique in this. Academics at Williams is the reason why our students attend. We have coffee with our profs on the weekends or after class and we'll e-mail them just because we have a question that we'd like their thoughts on. My math teacher is an awesome person who I've talked to multiple times outside of class about golf, calculus and graduate school. My economics teacher is a golfer and we're planning to play this Spring. I think I e-mailed him over 200 times this semester about course work and such. He responded every single time within 24 hours. My other professors are equally passionate about their subject areas as they are knowledgable. Put bluntly, the profs are experts in their areas and extremely intelligent in others. Students are always studying. Always. We like to study because it leads to learning. And you bet we love to learn. We're always having intellectual discourses about random topics that appear in the news or on campus or whatever. It doesn't matter; we're always talking and sharing opinions, learning from each other because we each appreciate and value the other's opinion and knowledge. Students are not competitive, really. We're all going for the A, but we don't talk about grades because we're more interested in the information and the educational value than the grade professors assign for us. The requirements among departments are lenient. You have to take a quantitative class and a class that endorses diversity, and one that is writing intensive. These requirements are not hard to fulfill. Most students do so without even recognizing it. The education at Williams cannot be consolidated as to say it is "job-gearing." We're not Wharton, a school designed for business and finance majors. Yet our school's reputation could place you in the same job that a Wharton graduate could. We are an institution geared towards learning. Our students graduate aware and knowledgeable. Because of this, we ARE ready for the working world, not because we have been told what to do. It is a consequence of our learning that results in our preparedness, not our one-tracked mind.


Classes here are challenging. The workload is substantial for many (but certainly not all) courses. Professors push their students and try to get students to do their best work, but they almost always ask for work that is within reason. Professors here really want to get to know students. I've had professors learn the names of every student before the first day of class (even for a lecture with one hundred and twenty students), take me out to breakfast, take me out for dinner, and I've even been to the President of the College's house. Students are not competitive. I always see people studying together in groups at the library, at the coffee shop, and in various study areas around campus. There isn't always as much intellectual discussion as I would like, but I find as I get into smaller and smaller classes, that intellectual discussion happens more frequently, easily, and often spills out of the classroom.


The academics here are amazing. I have one professor first semester for my inorganic chem class who knew all 110 students' names before our first class even started. The vast majority of professors are great and many will go out of their way to help you, whether it's going over material you didn't quite understand in class, buying you breakfast, showing you around their lab, or giving you an extension. I study ALL the time, but it's definitely worth it. I definitely get out of classes what I put in to them. Furthermore, students are not competitive. It's easy to get feedback from other students on essays and problem sets if you know where to look.


Professors definitely know you're name, even in big classes, they will make and effort and if you attend office hours or study sessions, you'll be recognized. Student studying ranging from minimal to intensive depending on the person, but students still find plenty of time for extracurriculars. We aren't a competitive lot, and many students help each other study. Most of the departments have picnics and socials. For example, the Chemistry department has a couple picnics and an annual softball game against the Biology department. The Chemistry and Biology students also have weekly snacks, and the Math Department has an ice cream social every semester. I see two of my professors in the gym regularly (they train for marathons!), and some of the small classes or departments get together for parties or dinner at a professor' home.


The academics at Williams are rather superior, but not necessarily as world class as you would imagine. You could probably get about the same education at a Big Ten honors college. The key to getting a decent education from Williams is to not follow the pack of prep school alums who will be lying up for Art History majors or the jocks trying to breeze through Econ and Psych. (This coming from a Psych major, but not a jock.) Find something that interests you, that really motivates you. For me, this was religion. Though, as you'll note, I'm not a religion major. My career path lies with Psychology, but there are times when it can become dry and boring and banal. Religion, on the other hand, is something often underappreciated at Williams, and the department is filled with quirky professors and students alike. Religion is what keeps me going when the hum-drum world of the Psychology major gets me down. You need to find your religion if you're going to make it through Williams. Take classes on topics you will probably never need to know again, like African art or the social theory of Carnival. You will thank yourself later. The students at Williams tend to find academics to be work rather than pleasure. Few people are interested in discussing academic topics outside of class or doing anything other than the bare minimum needed to pass. That being said, the bare minimum is rather high. If you want to achieve anything in the B+ and up range, plan on spending a good 70-80{4a082faed443b016e84c6ea63012b481c58f64867aa2dc62fff66e22ad7dff6c} of your free time in the library. It's difficult at Williams to get anything lower than a C, but it's certainly possible. Professors at Williams are rather open to talk to you about anything. Some even give their home phone numbers. This openness is definitely something you should take advantage of, as it will substantially improve your grade to be in contact with the person grading your exam. Regarding how well Williams prepares you for a career, those on the Econ/Bio/Chem/PreMed/PreLaw route are well-prepared to hold nearly any job they want after graduating. If you like Div I or Div II (excepting Econ), expect to feel that you've learned quite a bit in four years, but not to know how to apply that knowledge to the real world.


The classes are great, psychology is a lot of fun. I dont study too much. The professors are fantastic.


Professors definitely know your name, and you know theirs, and often a good bit about their family, too. Students study a lot. This isn't the number one liberal arts school for nothin'. Class participation is often required. Intellectual conversations outside of class abound, with a few exceptions. The most unique class (and probably hardest) I've taken was The Syntactic Structure of English, a linguistics class in which we tried to build rules of grammar based on usage data, our own knowledge of the language, and the transformational grammar of Noam Chomsky. I think the curriculum is awesome, manages to get you trying new things, and also prepares you well to be a unique and strong problem solver. We are trained on how to think, not what to think. Science classes are rigorous and satisfying and leave you feeling like you have a better grip on the way the natural world really operates, but at the same time allow you first hand experience in research. You are made to understand how scientific inquiry is a never ending and incredibly creative process. Social sciences and humanities leave you with much improved writing skills and new questions you may spend your life answering.


Everyone at Williams is smart. Kids do discuss intellectual subjects outside of class on a regular basis. The sciences, especially Biology, Chemistry, and Physics are all very strong departments.


Professors know their students, even in large classes. I have a lot of friends in different areas of study, so a lot of the learning I do is from them. Students are competitive only with themselves- grades are NEVER discussed among students. Learning typically occurs for the sake of learning- most students try to branch out and learn about things that are not related to their future careers or their majors.


amazing. I got "drunk" with my department. amazing


In general professors know your name, except in the large introductory classes (Psyc 101). Williams can be intense with schoolwork, so do expect to do work. My favorite class so far was a music class on the life and works of J.S. Bach. My least favorite class was a history class dedicated to the Russian Empire. I disliked the class because of the professor, not the material. Office hours can be very helpful when youre struggling with something. The number of classes required for a major is fewer here than at other institutions.


Professors are generally very solid at Williams. Like anywhere, they aren't all superb, but there are many wonderful ones to choose from and learn with.


Professors at Williams will definitely know your name if you speak up in class or see them during office hours. My favorite class this year was an Introductory English course called "Stupidity and Intelligence." My English professor was wonderful because not only did he help the entire class through the material we were reading, he managed to pull me into the material and make me absolutely love literary criticism. My least favorite class was Calcululs or Math 103. I dislike Math and I thought that the Professor rushed through the material. Students at Williams study in very different ways, at very different times and in some interesting places, but they always get their work done. Some students are in the library every day, some of my friends only went to the library once or twice. Some students procrastinate and then start studying at the last minute. Class participation is extremely common. Ninety percent of the students in once class participate either every day or every other day. I think that Williams freshman rarely have intellectual conversations outside of the classroom because we are just getting to know each other and you live with so many people who are not in your classes that it is more difficult to find an intellectual common ground. However, I hope as the years go on I will have more and more insightful conversations with students outside the classroom. Williams students are much more competitive with themselves than they are with each other. We demand a lot from ourselves and only sometimes do we compare ourselves to others. I have no idea what a "unique class" is therefore I don't think I've taken that class yet. I am not declared as an English major yet, but I most likely will be and I think that it is the best department because it offers the most interesting classes and has some of the best professors. I have spent time with professors outside of class to discuss coursework, but I have not yet been invited to a professor's house. I really like Williams's distribution requirements because they give my curriculum structure, but not in an overbearing way. It's very easy to fulfill your requirements while still taking classes that are interesting to you. The education at Williams is very much geared towards getting a job in the minds of freshmen I think. Many freshmen I know say, "You can get any job with a Williams education." However, this kind of attitude is more popular among Economics majors than English majors so I think your opinion of the education and its benefits are dependent on your major.


Professors are very friendly and make an effort to know your name. If you seek them out, they are almost always eager to help you and get to know you. Certain departments could be stronger, but overall the academic quality is excellence. One of the eight classes I took during this last year really disappointed me, but two of them really opened my eyes and made me think in new ways. Not a bad trade off. The other five classes I found useful and enjoyable. Williams' academic requirements are easy to fulfill and not burdensome. They make sure that you get a rounded education, but don't force you to take specific classes. Depending on the class, student participation can be very free or somewhat forced. Professor do seem to try hard to get discussions going, though, and they're usually successful. I've been in a class where fifteen to twenty of the thirty students had their hands raised at the same time, including me. Questions and comments are encouraged in almost all classes, even large lectures (not that lectures get very large at Williams).


This is the true reason to come to Williams. Most classes are under 20 students, and you are taught by the professors themselves, not TA's. All professors at Williams have extremely flexible office hours and really try to know their students on a personal level. If you want a liberal arts education, Williams is phenomenal. Be warned: a lot of Williams students in recent years seem to find themselves going into consulting/finance, law school or medical school after graduation. If you don't fit in one of these molds, it is a little tough to do well (aka you want to enter marketing or something). While not impossible, it is a little odd that Williams seems to funnel students into particular fields. To avoid hate mail from other Williams students, I am speaking generally and not to every Williams student, but it is a growing trend.


Tough stuff. Unless you're one of those super-geniuses, I'd advise against taking more than one class that meets every day (most classes meet two to three times a week), as I did my freshman year. However, just in case four classes isn't enough to keep you busy, you can tack on a fifth. There are no credit hours, which makes scheduling simple enough: pick four classes and go. Also, there are a lot of Econ majors, Psych majors and English majors. My favorite class turned out to be, surprisingly, Japanese, which was also one of the hardest classes I could have chosen. As a result of loving this class, I became an Asian Studies major... something I could not have forecast as a freshman. It seems to be working out well, though, and I find the classes within the department are very strong, and the professors are very helpful. I had a class of 12 students my freshman year, which dropped to 8 my sophomore year, and was divided into two parts for half the week, so I had a class of 4. This did wonders for increasing my language conversation ability, though, and worked out well when I got to go to Japan. We also have sushi parties outside of class, where we make our own rolls and play DDR... awkwardness at its best. One of the most unique classes I've taken was probably "The Embodied Mind"... an interdisciplinary look at ways of explaining the mind and how it works, looking at it through Buddhism, Neuroscience and Philosophy. It met once a week, and supposedly encouraged meditative practice, but we weren't graded on it so it unfortunately became obsolete. I took the class in its beginning stages, and doubtless it will improve as time goes on, but it was nevertheless a very interesting course, and its greatest strength was probably the diversity of views it aimed to present. I'm glad Williams has athletic requirements, since it's an added motivation to stay active throughout the semester, and there are a lot of good PE class offerings, including dance, yoga and independent weight training. I guess it's worth mentioning that I've never felt so overwhelmed and in over my head as I did my freshman year at Williams, thanks to the rigorous academics. It caused a real identity crisis and miserable social life for my first year... but getting through it was one of the best opportunities for growth that I've had. Williams students do (occasionally) have intellectual discussions outside of class, and sometimes the discussions in class are awesome as well. Sometimes they're not, but that's luck of the draw. Since classes are small discussion is easily fostered, and ultimately I'm incredibly proud of Williams' academics.


Most classes are really specific, which usually translates to interesting. Williams has no prereqs. The only requirement is that you take 3 classes in each of the 3 divisions. So though you are made to learn a wide range of topics, you have a lot of freedom to choose which class you're in. I feel like classes make you stretch intellectually (as much as you would like them to), and the major problem with homework is not lack of understanding, but lack of time. You will learn early that, in order to write your brilliant paper on British consumerism in the 19th century, you need to block out time to revise. Time management is essential (especially during reading periods)! Make use of the libraries! Williams students are really only competitive with themselves. We strive for personal best, but hardly ever compare grades. If someone does tell you their grade, it's usually because they are honestly surprised with it (good or bad). Everyone is encouraging to one another, and study groups are very common. Williams students are eager to talk about everything from global warming, to Joyce's Ulysses, to what happened this week on Shot of Love with Tilla Tequila. The conversation is as "high" or "low" as you make it.


I love the small classes of Williams. My first semester my largest class had 30 people in it, which felt large compared to my other three classes that had 10 or less. All of my professors know my name, with the exception of my 100+ person Psych class spring semester because we had six professors, but when we did labs with them or asked them questions they quickly learned our names. I love the professors at Williams because they obviously care and are very passionate about their subject and teaching. The professors are also, even on top of their amazing research, incredibly available and open to helping you. Professors have very diverse learning styles and there is an AMAZING range of subjects to choose from. Williams' requirements are so lenient and fun. There are NO required classes. Just divisional requirements are extremely flexible and fun. I also love the tutorials in Williams (two students and a professor meeting once a week as a class. They write papers and retorts and then present them in class). It seems like a lot of work, but I'm so excited to start my first in the fall. Winter Study (the first month of school after Winter Break, you take one class. For example, I took Winter Naturalist's Journal which taught us to draw and write about nature's winter). After this months of fun there's a "dead week" where we 'recoup' from our 'hectic' Winter Study class before 'real' classes - most people travel with friends. Williams student definitely have intellectual conversations outside of class and they show me how much we are enjoying our education. I love it. Student's aren't competitive at all. Grades literally aren't talked about. I can count on one hand how often this entire year anyone has mentioned their grades. It's extremely chill without any stress coming from your peers and competition. It's an individual game. You do the best you can do. I do spend time with Professors (as well as Wiliams administration and staff) outside of class. They are very warm and welcoming - often inviting students over to their houses for dinner. I know Williams' education is geared toward learning for it's own sake. It's a wonderful addition that everyone still receives amazing job offers around graduation.


The first thing that comes to mind about academics at Williams is that they're hard. I know people who got straight A's in high school, came to Williams, and get straight B's. The workload is challenging but manageable, and the students - though we always complain about it - wouldn't have it be any other way.


Williams is definitely hard. Students at Williams work hard and professors expect a lot of their students. Students are competitive but its more a competition with themselves to give their best, people do not compare grades. If you come to Williams definitely be prepared to spend a lot of time working but at the same time recognize that Williams students have a work hard play hard attitude. When its time to study, Williams students study really hard, but when its time to have fun, Williams students have a lot of fun.


Professors often go out of their way to know each student personally, which is amazing. I had one class of 100 students, and the professor knew everyone's name and face by the end of the week. That's impressive. For the most part, academics are very well-taught and are geared toward learning for its own sake. The unique term schedule allows for more freedom and reminds you that learning is supposed to be fun rather than a chore.


People at Williams study an almost ungodly amount. I am absolutely shocked by the amount of time people spend studying. Maybe I'm just lazy or unmotivated but it almost seems like overkill the amount some people study.


Great professors who go out of there way to help you. You can e-mail them when ever and they're always are willing to meet with you one on one. This senior spring semester I know a friend who wanted to start a Nabokov reading club because he had enjoyed a professor's class on Nabokov so much. He asked the professor if he'd like to meet Sunday afternoons and in less than 2 weeks the English department had given funding for snacks and the professor was enjoying a leisure afternoon with 10 excited students reading Nabokov's short stories. Tutorials allow for one on two professor to student interactions. I learned more here then ever about how to defend my paper and look also read another's writing with a critical eye. Needs: more diversity in the faculty


all my professors know my name except for one class. class participation is very common except for my one lecture class. the conversation also continues outside of class. there is little competition among students. people only really care how they are doing personally. the requirements are pretty relaxed, although they still help students to try a few classes in every area. education here is definitely focused on learning for the enjoyment of learning - learning how to think and how to achieve a well rounded education.


The classes are a good size; all my Professors know my name and greet me when I see them. I know Professors make an effort to see students outside of class as well. Students study alot, but I would not say more than most other top colleges. I love Williams academic calendar, with a January term. I took EMT training. It is an opportunity I will really never have a chance to do any other time in my life. I love that Williams provides students with that opportunity to try new things or explore their interests on a different level.


As previously discussed, the size of Williams College makes it possible to develop personal relationships with Professors and also to speak in class. Yes, there are large lecture courses, but even then Professors are always willing to meet on a one-on-one basis if a student has any questions or concerns.


Williams seems to have a peculiar academic feel. Everyone here is smart, and everyone knows it. Classes are small and personal; my largest class (and a huge one for Williams) is seventy people and the professor still knows everyone by name. However, people don't participate actively in class the way one would expect. I don't know why this is the case but students are pretty closed mouthed--surprisingly even in language classes. Every professor loves student participation, but it's hard to get a discussion rockin' in class. People study all the time--some less, some more--but someone all the time.


Average class size is around 20. Professors know everything about you. Psychology and art history are the only large lectures and those are around 100. Conversations of all types exist out of class including the intellectual. Students are fairly competitive, but not so much that they wont help each other out in classes. People spend time with professors outside of class. Education geared towards learning for its own sake.


Academics at Williams are highly ranked. Professors get to know all their students well before the end of the semester, and some maintain contact even after the semester has ended. A lot of the students are interested in the classes they take and may take some interesting topics outside of class. There is virtually no competitive atmosphere at Williams and students are generally willing to help each other.


I know all my professors and they all know me. The best thing about academics is the professors. They're generally friendly, helpful, and good at explaining things.


For all the Admissions Office makes a big deal about tutorials (and I know they are a fantastic way to improve one's writing and argument skills), it's really hard to get into one.


The course work is rigorous, but perfectly manageable if you plan your time well.


Professors are amazing. I highly recommend the English department.


Students and professors have a very relaxed, informal relationship. All my professors know my name. Class participation is encouraged and common. Most people attend Williams because they are serious students who are eager to learn.


classes can be hard, but not too bad if you study. professors are wonderful and i love going to talk to them in their office hours


Today I discussed my personal existential crisis with my professor.


Academics are rigorous. Classes are pretty small, and even in large classes, professors make an effort to meet you.


One of the best things about Williams is that theres this taboo about discussing your grades. It makes for a really great and noncompetitive environment. The one exception being my roommate, of course. They always say how small schools are great because you get to have dinner over at your professors' houses, blah blah blah. Well, I've been over to a professor's house for dinner a handful of times, but really it doesn't happen that often. What is great, however is the way professors are always available and willing to make time to talk to you about anything.


Williams has great faculty and an overall great student body. Interacting with professors is one of my favorite things to do here, because they always take the time to have real conversations with you, and they are overwhelmingly willing to help you out.


The small classes are incredible because they offer plenty of face time with the professors and the chance to get to know your classmates.It is less intimidating to speak up in class because there aren't 100 people listening. Feedback if frequent and helpful and the professors are always willing to help you improve and understand the material better. The variety and quality of the classes is also very impressive.


Classes are small and professors make a point of getting to know you and being available to answer questions. Participation is common and often required for many classes. Students study quite a bit and tend to be highly motivated and hard working, but generally competitiveness is never an issue. There are lots of opportunities to spend time with professors outside the classroom, from dinners to softball games to ice cream socials. The academic requirements are very reasonable and allow a great amount of freedom in choosing classes. The liberal arts education CAN be used as a direct route to a job such as iBanking or consulting but for most students it is an amazing opportunity to learn about all kinds of different things just because they are interesting.


Academics are hard--there are very few, if any, "joke" classes. During the week students can be found studying all over campus, but most are not workaholics, they're just very interested in what they study. Classes are small and professors approachable. Class discussions occasionally carry over into daily life, although the intellectual culture in that regard is somewhat lacking.


Professors are awesome. They take the time to get to know you as a person. They invite you to their houses for dinner, or treat your class to lunch at a local restaurant. You get to know their kids and spouses, and they become more than just a teacher or a potential job or grad school recommendation. They look out for you and care about you.


Are very good but are too time consuming so they cut out on other parts of the college life.


Academics are very important here, though some of the classes at the introductory level are disappointing. Professors definitely make an effort to know students' names, encourage office hour visits and provide many different sources of help. The amount students study ranges widely from person to person, according to how strenuous a class load they're taking, how much they care about grades (which are quite downplayed here), and how effortlessly brilliant they are. Class participation is not as common as I'd like- sometimes discussions fall flat, but students very frequently have intellectual conversations among themselves outside of class. The most unique class I've taken is also my favorite: a Winter Study class called Literary Collaboration that consisted of writing, illustrating and physically producing a book with a partner. The teachers took us out for Writers vs. Illustrators bowling, and we finished the class with a presentation of our books open to the college. Williams education in this respect seems to be a lot about learning for its own sake ("You HAVE to take Art History 101 before you graduate- or at least audit it!"), but there are plenty of resources to help us find jobs, and a much touted alumni network.


Profs know everyone's name except in a few big lecture classes, and even then they come close. No real competition between students. The most unique class I've taken was a class called "What is Life?" cross-listed as Chemistry and Religion and team-taught by a prof from each. We learned about systems theory, poststructuralism, Hegel, dissipative structures. I couldn't even tell you what most of it means now but it was great. One aspect that's unique to Williams is the tutorial program. Tutorials are made up of a pair of students and a prof. Each week one student writes a paper and the other writes a shorter critique or response. At the weekly tutorial meeting they each read their papers and then have a discussion with the prof. There are tutorials in every subject and they aren't hard to get into, unlike smaller classes at other schools. It's a great way to improve your writing and arguing skills, to go really in depth with a subject and to get to know a prof and another student.


I love that Profs know who I am when I go talk to them and that I actually feel comfortable going to talk to most of them. I've had classes I loved across the board. Multi-variable Calculus with Loepp was awesome. She has such great energy when she talks, and though she talks a mile a minute, you comprehend what she is saying. Reading/writing science fiction was great too. Paul Park was this dryly funny guy who clung to his coffee, battling sleepiness at 8:30 as much as all of his students were. The discussions we held were great; I liked that our discussions of published works and those things written by us for the class were equally important to him. I also love just about any art class I have taken. Glier was a great prof. He got you to think conceptually, giving your pieces a deeper meaning. Podmore's class is just such an experience. We looked at abstraction, representation and considered the materials used, noting their potential to create new and exciting things. Though academics are one of the top priorities here, student health and happiness definitely come first.


I like that Williams has allowed me to explore. Often people can't tell what my major is when told what my classes for the semester are, because I take classes in many different disciplines and usually only one of them is my major. I have learned more and shaped my worldview more outside of the classroom than inside--which I think I did need to come to a place like Williams to do.